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Frat Pack Tribute Movie Review: Dan in Real Life

Synopsis

Dan is a local newspaper advice columnist. He has three daughters and is a widower. He brings the family to his parent's house for a family get-together. When Dan goes to a local bookstore, he meets a woman. They start to fall for each other and the woman, Marie, gives Dan her number. However, Dan is in for a surprise when he returns to his parent's house. Marie is his brother's new girlfriend. Over the course of several days, the two got back and fourth in forbidden love and a few laughs. Marie, torn by the pressure of falling for Dan, dumps Dan's brother and they go bowling together. However, the rest of the family decides to go to bowling as well and finds the two bowling and sharing a kiss together.

Dan's brother, Mitch, played by Dane Cook hits Dan. Marie runs off and then drives off. Dan goes chasing after but rams a police car in the process and looses his license. Afterthis, Dan realizes he's been negotiating his family and kids. Dan admits he's been ignoring them and says he's sorry to his family and kids. He then goes to New York to find Marie and then live happily ever after.

Review

By Adam Stevenson

Dan in Real Life is the latest romantic dramedy from writer/director Peter Hedges (About a Boy, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Pieces of April), starring Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Dane Cook, John Mahoney, Dianne Wiest, and Emily Blunt, in what is one of this year’s best and heartfelt films of the fall.  Single father and popular family advice columnist Dan Burns (Carell) is struggling to raise three daughters, and puts them first before anything else.  After school on a Friday afternoon, he and his daughters go to the Burns Family cottage for the annual family get-together for the weekend.  Shortly after arriving, he is greeted by his parents (Mahoney and Wiest) as well as the rest of his brothers and sisters.  While checking out the local bookstore, he is mistaken for as an employee there by a beautiful stranger named Marie (Binoche).  In the bookshop, he asks her to a cup of coffee and work up a conversation about each other, primarily Dan, eventually leading to the death of wife.  Moments after receiving her phone number and arriving home to tell his siblings that he met a “hottie”, he discovers that Marie's the very same woman his charismatic brother Mitch (Cook) is about to introduce as his new girlfriend at the get-together. As the weekend gets underway, Dan and Marie scramble to hide their mutual attraction to each other, resulting in a chain of awkward situations. Yet, even under those circumstances, they can't help falling in love.

If there is anything about Steve Carell it would be one thing: Oscar.  He has Oscar written all over his performance.  What the audience can expect is that Carell at his best from beginning to end.  Most people would think that Carell in a dramatic state would be awkward or bad for this Emmy Nominated star.  From seeing him in roles in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and NBC’s The Office, Carell shows a whole new side to his outstanding acting ability. In the short bookstore scene, Carell make the members of the audience feel his character’s desire.  He even makes you feel what the character is feeling as if the Rhode Island columnist is an alter ego to all of us, especially adults.   Whether he’s confused, crazy, happy, or sorrowful, the character seems to move inside us all.  His character and performance as an actor is probably one of the best and most memorable we may see all year from my perspective as a film expert.  My bet for Golden Globes and Academy Awards at the moment is on Carell.

One of the best parts of the movie besides the humor is the music.  From my perspective, the music that is sung and heard throughout was some of the best I’ve heard in a long time.  All of the songs were composed and performed by Sondre Lerche and are available on the soundtrack and is probably one of the best soundtracks I’ve listened to since Garden State.  As you watch the movie, it seems like they all fall into place, especially ones that are scores or melodies. 

Of all the scenes, there are two that stand out, both involving music.  The first one involves the character of Ruthie “Pig Face” Draper (Blunt).  It begins with Dan’s parents setting Dan up on a date with Draper, a woman who as a girl, had a nose that looked like a pig snout, making her Ruthie “Pig Face” Draper.  Dane Cook and the cast start playing the piano and singing a hilarious and non-stop funny song about Draper’s connections to her and pigs, referencing The Three Little Pigs, and the song “This Little Piggy Went To Market…”.  As the date goes on, Emily puts the jukebox on playing “Fever” by A Fine Frenzy where Carell dances like he is a 40-year-old virgin!  The other one one takes place during the family’s talent show where Mitch has Dan play Pete Townshend’s “Let My Love Open The Door” on his guitar.  During this scene, Mtich singing to express his love for Marie, whom he repeatedly calls Anne throughtout.  As he begins to forget the words, Dan helps him out by singing the next lyric or two and contiuously looks at Marie as if he too is expressing feelings for her.  Furthermore, the music in the film fits easily in a story like this.

"Dan " is a delightful and pleasant film that mixes fun with a look at the good and bad aspects of life, love and family.  With it’s two liner’s like, “Didn’t you break up?” “Yeah, two hours ago!” is great to see a film like this for everyone.  Moreover, it's nice to see a movie at last that can put romance and humor together perfectly.

****

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